@Rodrigo, thank you for tagging me in this – I feel like you, me and @Angela have had a lot of off-lines conversations navigating these ideas and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss them out loud!
[quote=“Rodrigo, post:1, topic:8695”]
Now, although it would be interesting and worthwhile to talk about the specifics of the situation […] it would be worthwhile to unpack the functionality of “active” middlemen in an increasingly democratized world.[/quote]
This got buried, as the specifics of the situation define how I (and look like many others) unpack the functionality of this middleman. I don’t want to bury this any further, but I can’t strip the frame of this situation from my attitude about Patreon. So let me break this post up…
Making on Patreon means you are using a tool somebody else created to support your own work. There are plenty of ways to do this on your own, but this tool makes it easy to connect with folks directly and package things nicely. You don’t pay to sign up, you just pay if your work receives patronage. The platform is Jack’s creation and I think Jack can exercise his own free speech in electing to cancel his sponsorship of the accounts. I completely understand how it could be argued that this normalizes censorship or that this is “picking and choosing” ethics, but Patreon isn’t the US Congress silencing a rebel voice. It’s not even a private company firing an employee on issues of ideology. The decision to shut down hate speech on a platform this guy owns (and a lot of Lauren Southern’s speech is; the gut check of “If I belonged to these groups of people being talked about, would I like being talked about like this?” makes this pretty indisputable), is a good show of this guy building the world he wants to see. I wish he hadn’t hid behind such a neutral argument, honestly …
… and I couldn’t agree more!. But he paid out these folks’ earnings and, after watching practices over time, made a call based on his beliefs. Totally valid, in my book — as Patreon is not the US Congress, it doesn’t need to be a neutral platform. Honestly, Patreon seems like a direct extension of how Jack wants to see the world and I think it’s his responsibility to make these calls.
I love @guillaume’s point of how free Lauren Southern and Co. are to create their version of Patreon. This would make for a way weirder situation and the only version of this where rights of “free speech” can possibly be grey, which is whether or not this business would be judged as protected First Amendment expression by Congress and would be able to operate.
Now, this becomes messy if Patreon is the only platform in town that helps artists get paid. In small ways, it does border social monopoly. I can’t readily think of a micro-donation platform that allows folks to fund others beyond single projects, with secure credit card processing and the ability to host large files indefinitely.
Nonetheless, arguments for (and definitions of) decentralization are complicated. For makers trying to reach larger audiences, these centralized-ish tools are pretty enabling. And even as I look at building a website to host the podcast (vs Soundcloud), the path of least resistance means using Amazon Web Services in the process. It is simply the most stable option, but it’s also just another centralized tool. But now it’d be more “behind the scenes” – is that the differentiation, in terms of Internet politics and ethics?
I love Mat Dryhurst’s work on this front. Rather than fight centralization by solely focusing on dismantling current services, he builds and gives tools to artists so that they can make their model more compelling. Which, at the end of the day, seems like a really good way to destroy something – use the same tactics and elevate your model to outpace the one you disagree with. To get mumbo jumbo-y, we would benefit from finding more ways to marry horizontalism with the successes of vertical organization (and leaving out all the macho shit) so that these changes can scale and become the new universality.